British adventurer Bear Grylls has been flown in to help fit a one-of-a-kind ‘Defender 2,000,000’ as Solihull production of the current Defender model winds down.
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Grylls flew in to help fit the vehicle at the Solihull facility in May with representatives from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and Born Free, including actress Virginia McKenna.
Not usually known for his appreciation of the finer things, the adventurer was more than happy to praise the special Defender, which features Santorini-Black finishes, custom-stitched seats, unique logos and badges, and a map of Red Wharf Bay– where the design for the original Land Rover was first drawn in the sand – engraved into the aluminium fender.
“Known and respected by me and many other adventurers for their rugged reliability – it was an honour to be asked to take part in the build of this very special car," Grylls said.
The custom Defender, to be unveiled at the Goodwood Festival of Speed on June 25-28, celebrates 67 years of Land Rover and commemorates UK production of the two-millionth Series Land Rover and Defender.
As part of the celebration, the vehicle features a unique '2,000,000' badge on the vehicle’s rear, leather seats with the 'Red Wharf Bay' graphic, and special logos stitched on the headrests.
On the front and rear are S90 HUE registration plates – a reference to the first ever pre-production Land Rover, registration 'HUE 166' – while an aluminium plaque, signed by everyone who helped assemble the vehicle, is also fitted to the driver's seat plinth.
The vehicle will be auctioned at a charity event held at the Bonhams auction house in New Bond Street, London on December 16.
Funds raised will be donated to the IFRC and Born Free Foundation.
Bonhams Chairman Robert Brooks said he was delighted to be auctioning the two-millionth Series Land Rover and Defender at Bonham’s global headquarters.
“It's an honour to offer this landmark vehicle and I've no doubt there will be some spirited bidding," he said.
Production of the original Land Rover Series I began at the Lode Lane facility in 1947 ahead of its launch at the Amsterdam Motor Show on April 30, 1948.
Since then two million examples of the Series I, II III and Defender have been produced at Solihull.
Jaguar Land Rover Chief Executive Ralf Speth, who also helped build the vehicle, said the Defender had been the transport of choice for explorers, charity organisations, farmers and even royalty.
“Throughout history it has helped pioneers to reach the unreachable,” he said.
“What started life as an agricultural workhorse has transcended the automotive world to become a worldwide design icon.”
Production of the current Land Rover Defender is set to end at Solihull at the end of 2015.
But the resulting increased demand for the vehicle has led speculation that Land Rover will continue producing it at an overseas production facility.